Rank(s): Quarter Gunner
Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 1767
Death Date: 3/20/1815
Joseph Haycock was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts around the year 1767, although some sources suggest he was born in Portland, Maine about 1759). He was the second child of Ralph and Martha Brunel Haycock. About a year after his birth, the family moved to Bucks Harbor, Maine, but Joseph was back in Gloucester by 1791.
Haycock reported to the Constitution on March 16, 1811 as a seaman. At some point he was promoted to quarter gunner. He left the ship sometime after February 17, 1813.
The able seaman was an elite member of the crew. Having sailed for years “before the mast” on merchant vessels or worked his way up through the ranks in the navy, it was on him that the officers relied for the smooth operation of the ship. The traditional requirements for the seaman were that he be able to “hand (furl or take in a sail), reef (reduce a sail’s area), and steer,” but these were in fact the barest requirements for the seaman rating. In addition, they were expected to be familiar with nearly all aspects of shipboard labor. As an able seaman, Haycock made $12.00 per month.
Quarter gunners were supervised by the gunner’s mates. Most ships carried one quarter gunner for every four guns. Their duties were similar to those of the gunner’s mates, and helped with the maintenance of the guns. But they were also considered prime seamen and often assisted keeping watch and supervising tricky sail-handling maneuvers. Quarter gunners made $18.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
During his time on board, the ship made a diplomatic voyage to northern Europe. Haycock participated in victories over HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812 and HMS Java on December 29, 1812, and shared $100,000 prize money with the crew. His battle station for the second battle was 2nd Captain/ 1st Boarder at No. 4 carronade.
In 1813 Haycock joined the crew of USS Siren as quarter gunner. On July 12, 1814, after an 11-hour chase, the ship was captured by HMS Medway. The prisoners were sent to England and Haycock eventually was interred at the infamous Dartmoor Prison. He died there on March 20, 1815 of confluent smallpox. His personal estate was small, and his wife received only $30 in cash almost three years after his death. Consequently, both Haycock’s son Joseph and Henry Phelps, the executor of his estate, wrote the Secretary of the Navy in the 1830s asking if there was additional money owed to Haycock at the time of his death. As Phelps claimed, “He left a widow & one child who are in idigent [sic] circumstances.” Polly Haycock died in Gloucester in 1838.